Crux Winery is by far one of my favorite boutique wineries. They’re certainly setting the pace when it comes to Russian River Rhone wines — big bold flavors that are elegantly refined into some of the most balanced wines one can taste in the Rhone style. They’re the epitome of Old World conceptions meeting New World style. And the 2015 GSM Rosé is a palate-pleaser that proved just that.
Tercero Wines — this is a new one on me. And no wonder since Larry Schaffer, owner and winemaker of Tercero has only been working under his own label since 2006 and “really did not put 100%” into the brand until 2012. But Larry is no stranger to the winemaking business. Though originally in the educational and trade publishing industry, he made the courageous career leap to enology and is the former Enologist for Fess Parker Winery where he was once dubbed “Winemaker to Watch” by my very own SF Chronicle. But Larry’s real dream was to make his own name in wine with his own label. Again, Larry made a bold decision — he left the big-name brand and started Tercero.
I am a Fire Sign. Born in the heat of the summer, I am an August Leo — my planet is the Sun, my element, Fixed Fire. There is not one aspect of my personality that strays from a textbook description of my astrological birthplace. I am a culmination of those bright-light qualities as Zenaida Cellars Fire Sign is the accumulation of warm-weather grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Zinfandel. The difference is while Leo’s can have a tendency towards the lavish, the dramatic, the extreme, this Fire Sign is full of grace, delicacy, and refinement.
I first met Steve and Brian at the 2016 Rhone Rangers event in SF. After tasting a few of their Rhone-specific varietals (namely their Grenache Blanc, rosé of GSM, and GSM Rhone-style blend), I was immediately in awe with what these boys could do. What was more amazing to me was, while most other participants either hailed from California’s known “Rhone region” of Paso Robles or were large wineries — both in name and production quantity — with direct connections to the French Rhone roots, these two guys are situated in their own little nook in the heart of the Russian River Valley.
After trying Oso Libre 2012 Carnal, a Rhone style red blend, I was over eager to see what Oso Libre could do with a single varietal. Lucky for me the boys over at Oso, Chris and Jeff, sent me their 2012 Zinfandel as well. And I’ll just say straight away here that this second offering from Oso Libre didn’t disappoint — not only did it further my fascination with Zinfandel, but it fueled the fire I call my Passion for Paso.